The hackers believed to be responsible for recently breaching the Democratic National Committee also compromised computers used by law firms, lobbyists and others closely tied to the U.S. political system, Bloomberg reported Friday.
Citing a person familiar with investigations launched in response to the recent cyberattack, the report suggested that the DNC has hardly been hackers’ only political target as of late. In addition to the high-profile breach suffered by the Democratic Party, other attacks has been directed at various organizations, foundations and think tanks, including the Center for American Progress started by former Clinton administration chief of staff John Podesta.
Individuals told Bloomberg that nearly 4,000 different Google accounts were targeted over the course of more than seven months starting last October by hackers who attempted to gain access to privileged information using a tactic known as spear-phishing. By setting their sights on thousands of potential victims, the hackers likely then attempted to trick their targets into disclosing sensitive details or opening malicious attachments that could then be used to gather further information.
Amid reports that the DNC had been breached, cybersecurity firm CrowdStrke last week said that Russian hackers using sophisticated malware and other tactics had gained access to the committee’s computers. The Kremlin has rejected those accusations, and an individual using the moniker “Guccifer 2.0” has since published documents on the internet that were purportedly stolen from the DNC.
In a statement, the individual taking credit for sharing those documents claimed “any other hacker could easily get access to the DNC’s servers.”
“Everybody has to assume they’re coming after you, especially if you’re talking about politics and presidential elections,” security expert Joe DeTrani told Bloomberg Politics. “There are so many critical issues and if it’s touching the Russians — it’s not just Crimea, Ukraine and now the Middle East — maybe they just want to prepare accordingly, given the two presidential contenders and what they’re likely to confront. In some ways it’s very logical.”
While Bloomberg did not publish specifics regarding the purported rash of recent cyberattacks, its report indicated that investigators believe Russian intelligence services have been “broadly successful” with respect to obtaining sensitive information from U.S. computers beyond the DNC breach. Although almost 4,000 Google accounts were targeted, the number of profiles that were successfully breached was not disclosed.
Liz Bartolomeo, a spokeswoman for the Center for American Progress, told Bloomberg that the think tank had reviewed its systems and determined security measures in place had “prevented unwanted access to our systems.”
• Andrew Blake can be reached at email@example.com.
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